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News Dec 2, 2013 - 12:24:26 PM

State banking commissioner reminds holiday shoppers to safeguard their personal financial information

By State Banking Commissioner Howard F. Pitkin's office

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On Cyber Monday, State Banking Commissioner Howard F. Pitkin issued a reminder to Connecticut consumers to be on guard when making online purchases.

“Shopping online is more popular than ever,” stated Commissioner Pitkin. “The ease of making purchases from the comfort of your own home versus facing the crowds at the mall is a great incentive to do much of our holiday shopping online. I want to ensure that consumers keep in mind some basic tips to protect their financial information when making holiday purchases online.”

Purchasing gifts online is a very convenient way to find that perfect holiday gift. Unfortunately, this is the time of year that scam artists take advantage of the higher volume of online shoppers. Scammers have the goal to steal personal financial information from unsuspecting consumers and ultimately use this information to commit fraud.

“An online scammer will not hesitate to use your credit card number to go on a shopping spree, racking up bills to your account,” stated Commissioner Pitkin. “While Internet shopping has become more secure than ever, there are steps you can take to help protect your personal financial information.”

The following tips will help online consumers protect their personal information:
Do business only with merchants you know and trust. High-tech scammers use graphics or logos which appear to be legitimate, so be certain the websites you visit are genuine.
Be suspicious of websites that don't allow you to easily verify a company's legitimacy by clearly providing a physical address, telephone number and e-mail address.
Before completing a purchase or financial transaction, be sure that the website you're visiting supports secure transactions. Your browser should clearly indicate when you link to a secure location. Look for a URL that begins with https:// and a browser icon displaying either an unbroken key or a closed padlock.
Always keep records of your online transactions.
Always review your monthly credit card and bank statements for any errors or unauthorized purchases.

“When in doubt about making a purchase online, contact the store directly instead via phone, fax or mail to make your transaction,” advised Commissioner Pitkin. “If the website does not offer a telephone number or mailing address, think twice about utilizing that business.”

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